Dredging needed on Lake Superior, despite rising water level

The following is the text of a news release issued by the Lake Carriers’ Association:
(CLEVELAND)—A rising water level on Lake Superior translated into bigger loads at iron ore ports in April and helped to somewhat offset the impacts of the dredging crisis. Shipments Lakes-wide totaled 6 million net tons, an increase of 6.2 percent compared to a year ago, and 3.8 percent better than the month’s 5-year average.

Five of the six U.S. Great Lakes iron ore loading ports are located on Lake Superior. The 10-inch rise in the Lake’s water level in April allowed one of the U.S.-Flag 1,000-footers to increase its top cargo by nearly 1,800 tons compared to a year ago. Even a smaller U.S.-Flag Laker was able to carry an additional 950 tons each trip.

However, a rising water level has not erased the dredging crisis. Even the ship that was carrying an additional 1,800 tons was still lightloading by more than 8,300 tons. Realistically speaking, water levels cannot rise enough to overcome the 18 million cubic yards of sediment that are clogging the system. The Administration and Congress must provide adequate funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Lakes dredging efforts, or lightloading will continue to sap the efficiency of Great Lakes shipping. The Corps estimates it needs $230 million to restore the Great Lakes navigation system to project dimensions.

For the year, the Lakes iron ore trade stands at 11.3 million tons, an increase of 9.2 percent compared to a year ago. Compared to the 5-year average for the January-April timeframe, 2008 loadings are up by 5.4 percent.

Lake Carriers’ Association represents 16 American corporations that operate 63 U.S.-Flag vessels on the Great Lakes. These vessels carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy: Iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, limestone and cement for the construction industry, coal for power generation…. Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 115 million tons of cargo a year when high water levels offset the lack of adequate dredging of Great Lakes ports and waterways. More information is available at www.lcaships.com.

Source: Lake Carriers’ Association

Contact: Glen G. Nekvasil, Vice President – Corporate Communications: (216) 861-0592

By Professional Mariner Staff